Five book reviews & a competition to win Anna Wintour’s biography

Annabel and Grace showcase such wonderful fashion on their pages – there’s always something I’d love to buy. If only I had the money – living on a pension makes indulging my clothes passion difficult.  And in fact, most, if not all, of my clothes are charity shop finds. So back to my February book reviews.

Anna The Biography by Amy Odell (Allen & Unwin)   

And, of course, Anna Wintour is the iconic fashionista.  And to be honest, I’d recognise that red-haired bob and sunglasses anywhere. Just as an aside, do you know anyone who has literally had the same hairstyle for so many years? Certainly not me

Anyway, what a wonderful biography packed with all kinds of incidental details. Her favourite food is lamb chops (me too), and although it’s been out for a while, we have a terrific hardback copy to be won.

(Competition) Just answer this simple question:

Which magazine did Anna Wintour edit for many, many years?

Was it –

  1.  Harpers & Queen
  2.  Vogue
  3. Tatler

Email your answer to

The Garnett Girls by Georgina Moore (HarperCollins)

A ‘take three girls’ type of read used to be a magazine staple back in the days when there were just so many print magazines to choose from. I used to write for – amongst others – Annabel Magazine, which sadly disappeared many years ago – shame as it was an interesting read.

But The Garnett Girls is definitely my kind of ‘take three girls’ type of read. Based mainly in an old rambling-type house facing the beach on the Isle of Wight. Mum Margo locked herself away after her alcoholic husband Richard left her  – the eldest Rachel tried so hard to cook and to make things right for her younger sisters Imogen and baby Sasha and was obviously desperate for praise from her Mum.

Now years later, Margo – still a sex siren and party mad – has refused to ever speak of Richard to her girls. Rachel married and is now custodian of Sandcove, the beachfront house, although she really wants to live in London. Imogen is about to become not only a successful playwright but engaged to William. And wild Sasha, also married but seemingly controlled by her husband Phil.  All three victims of Margo’s refusal to talk about her past. But secrets have a habit of becoming known.  

This is a wonderfully lyrical novel, and I loved it.  Incidentally, author Georgina Moore not only lives on a houseboat on The Thames but has a holiday houseboat on the Isle of Wight. And she has a mad Border Terrier. This is her debut novel.

Those People Next Door by Kia Abdullah (HQ)

Before you buy a house, do you check out not only the neighbourhood but the neighbours as well?  Or do you take it for granted that, on moving to a nice, middle-class area, your neighbours will be like-minded people?

Salma Khatun, her husband and her son have moved to the nice safe development known as Blenheim.  They need a fresh start and are hopeful that this is it. Shortly after moving in, son Zain plants an anti-racist banner in a plant pot in the front garden. Selma is aghast to see her neighbour Tom ripping it out and throwing it to the ground. Salma doesn’t say anything but puts the banner in her front window. Next morning she draws back the curtains to find the windows smeared with paint.

Does Salma protest or turn the other cheek?  Battle lines are drawn, and Blenheim will never be the quiet, peaceful neighbourhood again. Thought-provoking, and I do wonder whether the author is writing from a lived experience. Truly riveting.

The Redeemer by Victoria Goldman (Three Crowns Publishing)

More racism in The Redeemer. Set in a small Hertfordshire town, journalist Shanna is intrigued by a series of fake blue commemorative plaques. Rather than highlighting that a well-known writer or celebrity lived here, they highlight a ‘bad deed’, and she discovers there are also vigilante murders. She is then witness to a racist attack making her feel not only terrified but ashamed.

To be honest, I am still midway through this one – but I can remember my father (and husband Malcolm, for that matter) doing security detail outside our local synagogue, and I would expect that the local Mosque has the same problem.

King Charles III is now defender of ‘The Faith’ and is adamant that the UK is a place for all faiths to live peacefully. I do wish this was so but I rather suspect that this debut novel is also written from the novelist’s lived experience.  

I discovered Victoria on Twitter, and after chatting, she sent me a copy.  It’s been out for about six months, and it’s a thought-provoking murder mystery.  Definitely recommended.

In Little Stars by Linda Green (Quercus)

I wonder just what is happening. Is there some kind of collective brain think amongst authors because here is yet another racist novel?  And this one had me in floods of tears.

Brexit set many families apart from each other, and neighbours Sylvie and Donna, although travelling on the same train to work, never speak. Each has a different viewpoint. Their offspring Jodie is about to leave school and also takes the train, whilst Rachid is studying at college a train ride away.

They are instantly attracted to each other, and knowing that their parents – on both sides – would never approve – they keep their relationship quiet.

Oh my goodness, this had me on such an emotional roller coaster, and truly at the end of this really thought-provoking novel, I was in pieces.

It’s funny I can remember an aunt and uncle absolutely forbidding my cousin from going out with a non-Jewish guy, and she dutifully obeyed. She got married a year or so later to a Jewish man she met at a wedding. Now, her grandson has been happily married to the most gorgeous Hindu lady with two beautiful girls, and it’s so lovely to see our family in all its various guises. And just recently, we welcomed a beautiful little Japanese baby into the family and my goodness, does he have the family look.   Husband is addicted to watching all those violent and gruesome Viking-type shows with their bloodthirsty killings and homage to the gods.  And just look at what a mess they made of everything.

For more book reviews by Janet Gordon, click HERE.